Is rosacea a form of acne? No. Rosacea is an entirely different skin condition. However, because acne-like pimples are a common symptom of rosacea, many people with rosacea mistakenly believe they have acne. The confusion is very understandable.
It’s important, though, for patients to know that these two skin conditions are different, for some acne treatments can actually make rosacea worse.
Key Differences Between Acne and Rosacea
To begin with, rosacea is a disease that usually begins in adulthood — most often after age 30 (although the pre-rosacea sign of frequent blushing may occur at an earlier age). Traditional acne (known medically as acne vulgaris), on the other hand, tends to start during adolescence and may or may not continue into adulthoold.
In addition, one of acne’s telltale signs, blackheads, does not form in rosacea. And the acne-like pimples of rosacea do not spread to the back or shoulders, as those cause by acne vulgaris sometimes do. That’s because rosacea has nothing to do with plugged-up skin follicles.
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Some Acne Treatments Can Make Things Worse
The acne-like symptoms of rosacea can be treated — but not always with the same medications or procedures as as those used for regular acne. Certain laser treatments help both conditions. But people with rosacea should avoid some topical acne treatments, such as alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide and chemical peels. All these ingredients can greatly worsen the symptoms of rosacea.
As with any kind of skin condition, it’s important that you seek diagnosis and treatment from a knowledgeable and skilled physician.